Chronicle of Betting Practices in New Zealand

John Cabot

Believe that gaming is a fresh concept in New Zealand? You might want to reconsider that thought. Between the two terms - gaming and New Zealand - it's actually New Zealand that takes the lead in the historical chronicles of Kiwi wagering.

New Zealand was founded in 1840, yet long prior to the great individual gracing our ten-dollar note assumed the role of our Best head of government, the indigenous people were already playfully flirting with luck in numerous gambles. This was a tradition that existed well before the inception of our beautiful nation.

Back in 1497 when John Cabot, a man of discovery, stumbled upon an indigenous community, he was mesmerised by their traditions. A notable part of their culture was engaging in games of chance, a practice they believed nurtured their bodies, sharpened their minds, and enriched their souls. Venturing further into this intriguing occurrence, Cabot unearthed startling evidence that the roots of gambling stretched back to the ancient times of 6000 B.C. Oh, how far back this thrilling human experience goes! The sheer fascination of gambling, it appears, reverberates deeply within our collective history.

Naturally, the act of betting wasn't always represented by a roll of dice or a shuffle of cards. In the earlier days, right here in New Zealand, people used to find thrill and experience the spirit of wagering with simple sticks and stones. Yet, the fundamental essence of gambling, that palpable rush of risk and reward, remained much the same. It's fascinating to witness how the same pulsating heartbeat of a gamble has been beating through the ages, transcending the transformation from sticks and pebbles to today's sophisticated casino games.

Just because a practice has been ongoing for a long time, it doesn't automatically garner it ongoing reverence.

A complete prohibition on gambling - coupled with a transformation of perspective.

Ban on Gambling

In the year of 1892, New Zealand's Crimes Act slammed the door shut on all forms of gambling, casting a dark shadow over those who took pleasure in a flutter. However, as inevitable as the changing of seasons, the social view on gambling evolved with the ever-changing times. The dawn of the 20th century, 1900, saw a thawing of this frosty stance, as bingo games and raffles were given the green light for charitable causes - a dash of colour in an otherwise grey landscape. Fast forward a decade to 1910, and horse racing was ushered onto the stage of acceptable gambling activities in Aotearoa. This allowed Kiwis to revel in the exciting unpredictability of the race, the cheer of the crowd, and the sense of camaraderie that comes with backing your chosen steed. Then in 1925, another significant change unfurled. Fairs and exhibitions all across our beautiful islands were granted the privilege to host gambling events. The joy of such occasions was no longer confined to the rides and the candyfloss; now Kiwis could try their luck and enjoy the thrill of the game, making memories that would last a lifetime.

In the heyday of 1969, the New Zealand government recognised the immense potential of lotteries. This profound realisation led to a thoughtful change in the criminal law, paving the way for both the national and regional governments to establish lotteries as a means to financially back significant initiatives. This heartfelt endeavour came to fruition in 1974 when the very first lottery was conducted to gather much-needed funding for the Olympics, hosted that year in a city as vibrant as Auckland.

Throughout the passage of time, local regions have been gradually entrusted with more responsibilities to manage lotteries, horse racing, video pokie machines, and casinos here in New Zealand. It's a fact today, that casinos are spotted in just about every region in our beautiful country. As the annals of time have unfurled, these establishments have transformed into magnificent magnets of amusement for those who relish the thrill of a flutter and the allure of entertainment.

The dynamic between gaming facilities and the government in New Zealand fluctuates across different regions. In certain areas, the government maintains full control, owning and managing these establishments. Conversely, in other regions, while ownership rests with the government, the operations are handled by private establishments. Regardless of who's in charge, these invaluable hotspots are significant income generators, contributing a hefty sum to the financial landscape.

The growth of terrestrial gambling sites in New Zealand

Ceasars Casino Windsor

Caesars forked out a whopping NZ$639 million, a staggering sunrise of investment, to breathe new life into their casino in Windsor, Wellington-region several years ago, a phoenix now proudly soaring as Caesars Windsor. This Wellington-region charm, nestled on the cusp of Detroit, effortlessly holds its own against the lavishly decked out gaming dens that are the pride and joy of Las Vegas.

At first glance, you might be knocked off your feet by the colossal half-billion-dollar expense forked out for the refurbishment of a casino which, truth be told, was already drawing quite a crowd and functioning perfectly well. Before its impressive metamorphosis, Casino Windsor wasn't exactly what you'd call a decrepit building. Yes, it had its fair share of years under its belt, but let me tell you, there are quite a few casinos dotted across New Zealand that pale in comparison with far less charm or appeal.

Hear ye! For all the ardent admirers of the sizzling Sin City, replications can never come close to the real experience of pounding the streets of Vegas. There's no chance of our diggers in New Zealand being enthralled by a facelift of a local casino, mimicking the glitter of Las Vegas. The unique charm of Las Vegas is irreplaceable, and that's a fact. Those die-hard Vegas aficionados will still find themselves irresistibly drawn towards Nevada's heart-throbbing casinos.

Just who was Caesars vying for victory against? Many reckon it was MGM, tucked away over in Detroit. However, let's be candid here. Detroit is, well, it's Detroit. Both locals and those from afar would hands down prefer to venture into the secure surroundings of Windsor, than tangle with the unpredictable vibes of Detroit.

In the grand scheme of things, your true rivals might be nestled thousands of kilometres in the distance, yet they are as near as a mere mouse-click.

The transformation of online casinos and poker rooms in gaming

For New Zealands, gambling is all about options.
Online poker changed the game

Nowadays, countless 'real money' online casinos reign supreme across New Zealand's gaming scene. An astounding number of poker lounges and a myriad of distinctive online casinos perform the magic that the Kiwi government couldn't - they usher exhilarating casinos right into the living rooms of Kiwis who relish a thrilling round of luck-based games.

It's an absolute breeze, mate! You don't need to turn New Zealand upside down to find one. Here in the heart of Kiwi nation, it's frequent to witness adverts for poker sites, completely on the house and casinos woven into the very fabric of our broadcasting - national broadcasts and rugby matches alike!

Kiwis are pouring countless dollars into the heart of online casinos, with many of these digital gambling sites not even rooted on New Zealand's soil. This begs the question, are our nation's government-run casinos feeling the pinch? Well, it's not exactly a clear-cut case.

It's a time of excitement and anticipation here in Aotearoa, as our government has given the green light for a handful of brand new casinos to be established. Private enterprises from the likes of Las Vegas haven't hesitated a moment in seizing the chance to run these glamorous gambling hubs in our cherished cities such as Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and beyond. It's little more than a few short years before we'll see the unveiling of these lavish betting bonanzas, injecting a spark of Vegas-style luxury and opulence right into the heart of New Zealand.

In a world where everything's becoming increasingly digital, it's intriguing to discover that online casinos are actually igniting a renewed passion for traditional, land-based casinos in New Zealand. There's no denying the convenience of online gaming, but it's much like buying a music CD - it just doesn't compare to the sensory overload and exhilarating experience of a live concert. For Kiwi punters who truly love a flutter, the thrill of the game isn't confined to the digital realm. They crave a diverse gambling experience, a heady mix of both online gaming and the tangible, heart racing buzz of live casino action. So, while the digital revolution marches on, our love affair with the earthy, real-world casinos burns brighter than ever.

Just cast your eyes over the global phenomenon that is the World Series of Poker - it's proof positive. In the halcyon days of 2001, prior to the eruption of the online poker craze, a modest crowd of 612 passionate souls dared to test their skill in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker. Fast forward to 2012, a staggering 6,598 hopefuls were drawn towards the beckoning call of the Main Event, eager to mark their place in the annals of poker greatness.

The current global perspective on gambling today

How the world views gambling today

online betting has seamlessly incorporated amateur yet skilled gambling into the heart of our society and it's monumentally shifted the societal outlook on betting. Cast your gaze back to poker for a moment. Before the turn of the millennium, confessing to someone that your bread and butter was poker would likely have them labelling you as a reckless bettor or a wrongdoer. The notion would be that you engaged in illicit card games or shadowy, illicit basement casinos. If the conversation extended to the point where you mentioned your poker affairs took place in legal poker rooms as glitzy as those in Las Vegas, the odds were high that they'd picture you dwelling in your vehicle, grappling with a mountain of debt from betting.

Imagine sharing with a fresh mate that you've made a livelihood out of playing poker, their eyes might sparkle with envy as they picture you living a life of sheer comfort and abundance here in New Zealand. There's a rising viewpoint that insists anyone who can turn the game of poker into a full-time profession is surely pocketing a healthy income.

It's unquestionably eye-opening, the shift we've seen where respected doctors, legal eagles, savvy accountants, adrenaline-fueled day traders, revered university lecturers, and countless professionals from a vast array of fields have swapped their cushy, well-paying jobs for poker chips in the heart of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Our collective consciousness around gambling has genuinely transformed, hasn't it? It's so much more than just whimsically tossing chips onto the velvet surface and praying for Lady Luck to dance our way. Nope, it's a delicate dance of strategy where one must know when to make their move, which bets to place when, and, crucially, how to leave your opponents eating your dust. It's a mind-game my friend, one where the cleverest takes it all.

New Zealand's Gambling Landscape: Looking Ahead

Future of gambling

In New Zealand, gaming is about choice. Whether you prefer the convenience of online gameplay or the lively atmosphere of government-run casinos, there’s an avenue for you. Fancy a trip to the racetrack for a thrilling game of chance? Or perhaps you prefer the allure of privately operated establishments, reminiscent of Skycity Auckland. You are spoilt for choice, enveloped in a world of possibilities.

What is the present truth? Yet, what does the next phase bring?

As the regions of New Zealand delve into the realm of regulated online casinos - both North-Island and South Island are already home to such sites, and Wellington is at full pelt setting up another - Kiwis are soon to be spoilt for choice. The regional online casinos may need to band together, forming a nationwide online casino to level the playing field with international sites that have had a ten-year leap ahead. These overseas behemoths possess great competitive power, and our local sites must team up if they're to give our enthusiastic Kiwi gamblers a run for their money, all while keeping things regulated and safe. The race is on, and the stakes are high.

Regardless of the outcome - be it government-run online casinos, international web-based gaming establishments, or an inviting blend of all sorts - one thing's practically guaranteed. Kiwi punters will persist in experiencing a wealth of options. And when the day draws to a close, that simple fact transforms every casino enthusiast in New Zealand into the real victor.